You don’t need me to remind you how competitive Singapore can be. You already know that when it comes to getting a job, it can get about as cutthroat as a scene from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome – minus the whole “two men enter, one man leaves” fight to the death concept.
Then again, what else do you expect when the Singapore economy is the second most competitive in the world?
If you’re fortunate enough to make it to the interview round of your job search, that’s great! But you shouldn’t let your guard down just because you’re now one step away from landing a better job. Because interviews aren’t just about giving the right answers to questions – but about asking your interviewer the right questions as well.
Here are 5 questions you should never leave unasked during an interview:
#1 What Will You Expect Me to Achieve During My First 3 Months?
You know that most companies have a 90-day “probation” period to determine whether you’ll be a right “fit” for the company. It sounds like a long time, but it’s not. You need to know exactly what your employer expects out of you right from the start.
If you’re spending your first few weeks on the job learning what needs to be done at a walking pace, it really sets you at a disadvantage because companies expect you to start contributing right at the start.
So make sure you ask your interviewer directly what he/she expects you to accomplish during your first 90 days, you’ll know exactly what you need to do.
Ask what objectives need to be fulfilled during your first 3 months and how your employer will evaluate you on those objectives.
That way, you’re not walking “blind” during your first 90 days on the job – you can get right to work achieving those 90-day objectives!
#2 What Separates a Top Employee Here From Everyone Else?
Every company has its “star” performers who contribute greatly to the organization’s bottom line. Typically, these are the guys who are at least 10% more productive than their colleagues (and can be as much as 8X-10X more productive in some cases).
You want to be part of that group.
However, first you need to ask your interviewer what key qualities separate a top employee from an average one.
This question is important for several reasons:
- It shows your interviewer you’ve got the desire to be a top performing employee
- You learn what qualities the company’s top performers share (ex. creativity, patience, customer service, flexibility, etc.)
- It gives you a better idea whether the company is the right fit for you too (ex. maybe your interviewer mentions “long work hours” and you’re not too hot about long hours).
The bottom line – learn early on what key qualities will help you get ahead at that company.
#3 What’s the Biggest Thing I Can Do to Make a Difference at This Company?
Despite all the niceties and chit-chat that may occur during the interview, there’s one underlying question that your interview wants to know, but you should ask – what’s the biggest thing I can do to deliver results to the company?
Yes, it’s a big question that might come off as being a little vague, so you’ll probably need to follow up this question with a little context on what you mean.
For example, if you’re applying for a sales job, you’ll want to ask your interviewer what you could do to make the greatest difference on the company’s bottom line.
Yes, in that instance, “sales” is the answer you’ll get – but go deeper than that.
Maybe the problem isn’t that the company’s salespeople aren’t closing sales, but that they can’t generate add-on sales or retain customer loyalty.
Asking that question will show your interviewer that you’re deeply interested in solving the company’s problem(s).
#4 How do Employees Here Spend Their Leisure Time?
Believe it or not, this is one of the most important questions you can ask – because the answer will give you greater insight into “life” at the company.
Judging by your interviewer’s noncommittal or very enthusiastic answer about company-wide functions, you’ll be able to find out the following about your workplace:
- Whether the employees enjoy their work
- Whether the company’s employee are a tight-knit group or a band of mercenaries
- Whether the company has a work- or people-focused culture
The more information your interviewer divulges from the question, the easier it will be to form a picture of what kind of work atmosphere you can expect.
Think about it, if most of us had asked this question at some of our previous job interviews, we might have been able to notice (and avoid) workplaces where the atmosphere was as toxic as Chernobyl.
#5 What’s the Company’s Long-Term Strategy for Staying Competitive?
Let’s be honest, we ALL want to join a “winning” team right? I mean, we want to know that the company we’re interested in joining is competitive enough to deal with the constant changes in technology, the business environment, and competition.
Now of course, you can find all of this information on the company’s annual report if it’s a large company (but you should still ask this question anyway). If it’s a smaller company, your interviewer would be someone (hopefully) with the answer.
The reason you want to ask this question is because maybe 1 out of 10 people ask it – it’ll make you stand out and will make your interviewer realize that you’re serious about the company’s long-term goals AND what you can do to help it achieve them.
On that note, if your interviewer cannot answer this question, it should be a warning sign that the company might be in financial trouble, have ineffective leadership, or worse – both.
Final Note: Looking for more helpful career information on everything from resume writing to resignation? Then make sure you check out our Career Learning Center today!
What are some other questions that make interviewers thing “hmmm, this guy is serious about the job?” Share your thoughts with us on Facebook! For even more useful information on everything personal finance, visit MoneySmart today!
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